Friday, April 22, 2011

A hymn

As we approach Good Friday and Easter, I want take this opportunity to wish you an Easter blessing.  The lyrics below are from a modern hymn written by Keith and Kristen Getty, a couple from Northern Ireland.  The lyrics very nicely express what these days are all about for christains like myself - God bless

The Power of the Cross (you can listen at

Oh, to see the dawn
Of the darkest day:
Christ on the road to Calvary.
Tried by sinful men,
Torn and beaten, then
Nailed to a cross of wood.

This, the pow'r of the cross
Christ became sin for us;
Took the blame, bore the wrath—
We stand forgiven at the cross.

Oh to see the pain
Written on Your face,
Bearing the awesome weight of sin.
Ev'ry bitter thought,
Ev'ry evil deed
Crowning Your bloodstained brow.

Now the daylight flees;
Now the ground beneath
Quakes as its Maker bows His head.
Curtain torn in two,
Dead are raised to life;
"Finished!" the vict'ry cry.

Oh, to see my name
Written in the wounds,
For through Your suffering I am free.
Death is crushed to death;
Life is mine to live,
Won through Your selfless love.

This, the pow'r of the cross:
Son of God—slain for us.
What a love! What a cost!
We stand forgiven at the cross

Monday, April 18, 2011

Getting a jump on opening day

I generally avoid the opening day of trout season since I don’t enjoy the crowds carting their white buckets full of trout for the freezer. Instead, I opted to do some maintenance work at church and help get the house ready for some house guests who are visiting this week. I did however take the afternoon before opening day off and fished a nearby trout management area. These TMA’s are open all year round but are catch and release during the off-season. I had hoped that I would be able to find a little quite before opening day.

The stream was up a bit from the last time I visited due to a heavy rainstorm earlier in the week. Despite the increased flows the stream was clear and there were quite a few people out, warming up for opening day. After a little walk, I was able to find a nice stretch of stream to myself. In the first riffle/pool combination, I picked up a small brown on a bead-head pheasant tail and partridge (second from the left in the previous post). Although with the increased flows I was not confident that the flies were down where they needed to be. I opted not to add weight hoping to fish some spiders if fish began rising. It wasn’t long before I saw a splashy rise in some heavier shallow riffles above me. I usually pass up this location, so I decided to work my way up and take a look. I saw one more rise but nothing consistent. I was fishing a tandem rig with the bead head pheasant tail and partridge on point and a March brown wingless wet as a dropper. I worked the riffles and picked up a decent brown in the tailout. It’s always nice to pick up a fish or two from a new location. I’ll be checking this area again throughout the season to see if holds fish under more normal flows.

After a couple more drifts through the riffles, I moved up to a glide where I have seen fish rising over the past few weeks. Another brown took the pheasant tail in the shallows as a few early black stone flies began showing up on the water. There was a period of about 20-30 minutes of steady vigorous rises in the shallows. I worked through the adult stonefly patterns I had with me with absolutely no interest. After going through 3-4 different dries, I quickly switched over to a black spider on point and a grouse and orange dropper and greased the length of the leader. Fishing upstream, I was able to drift the flies a foot or two inside of the opposite bank in less than 1 ft of water. After a bulge near the flies, I lifted the rod and another decent brown was on. After releasing the brown, I saw another subtle rise and drifted the flies through the area and was pleased to see another bulge and a small brook trout attached to the grouse and orange. Catching a pair of fish on north country spiders made the afternoon for me.  I am having a lot of fun with these flies, gaining more confidence with each outing.

The surface activity quickly shut down and I went back to the bead head pheasant tail and partridge/March brown rig and hooked two more browns on the PT but dropped both fish. These also came from runs I do often fish. Overall, another great afternoon.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Pheasant-tail soft-hackle variations

      The venerable pheasant tail is certainly one the best known, used, and modified patterns around. The number of variations attests to it’s effectiveness in a number of situations. I’m partial to “soft-hackles” and even here the variations are endless. Here is a brief description of the variations that I use with the hope that others would be inspired to post there favorite variations as well.
Four pheasant tail soft-hackles
     I’ve been using four variations. They all have a short tail of 3-5 tail fibers and the body is formed from the fibers wound and then reinforced with a counter-wrapped small copper wire ribbing. The thorax for each is formed with 2 peacock herls wound around the tying thread 3-4 times to reinforce it and then wound about the hook.
     Starting from the left and working right is the bead-head pheasant tail. I use a standard scud hook (#16/#18) with a copper bead. For the soft hackle, I like a brown hen hackle with a dark (slate to black) webby center. Two turns of hackle max.
     Next is the bead head/partridge hackle on a standard nymph hook. I use sizes 16 and 18 here as well but the nymph hook results in a longer body which is a nice change. Working with partridge in front of the bead can be tricky but with persistent practice you will get the proper proportions. Another tip is the wind the peacock tight against the bead so that after winding the hackle you don’t get a gap between the hackle and the bead. Here, I wind the hackle once with a feather that is not stripped on one side. This gives enough fibers but still results in a sparse collar and reduces the gap by keeping the number of turns of the partridge stem behind the bead down.
      If you have a lot of black stones, the next variation has been working well for me this spring. It uses dyed black pheasant tail fibers and a gun metal bead. I tie these on #14-#16 scud hooks.
      Finally is a bead-less version that can be fished in the surface film. I use a standard dry fly hook (#14-#18) and partridge hackle (1 turn max). I don’t put a tail on these.
      So there you have it.  Let’s see your favorite, I’ll bet there some interesting ones out there.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

A local diversion

A local favorite
It's been a while since I've been out so I decided to take advantage of the moderate temperatures predicted for yesterday and visit a favorite local stream for a couple of hours.  It was a pleasant early spring day to be out with the warm sun reflecting off the water.  The stream was a bit on the low side and very clear.  There were signs of life along the banks with the early sprouts of skunk cabbage making their way through the dirt.

I had decided that I would fish mostly wet flies.  I started out with a bead head pheasant tail soft hackle with a wingless wet march brown as a dropper.  This tandem rig worked very nicely and accounted for a nice mix of brown and brook trout.  At one point, I had a pair of brook trout on each fly to deal with.
Ballie's Black Spider

As the late morning gave way to afternoon, small black stone flies began making an appearance.  I switched up to some North country spiders which I have been researching and tying over the past winter.  The black spider originally attributed to James Ballie in W. C. Stewart's The Practical Angler garnered the most interest.   I ended the day fishing a stone fly adult pattern that provoked a lot of interest but no takers.   All in all a very fine day indeed.